High Heelin’ for a cause

Apr 20, 2010

Squeezing their feet into small rhinestone-encrusted pumps, more than two dozen young men prepared to totter around McKeldin Mall yesterday morning in an attempt to raise awareness of sexual assault.

The students suffered in their high heels for about 15 minutes, walking one lap around the mall while waving a small red flag symbolizing the university’s contribution to the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” international awareness campaign.

“I know it looks kind of funny, but if we’re out here at 10 in the morning in heels, then it shows that the issue is pretty serious,” sophomore civil engineering major Josh Mark said.

Student group TEal & PuRPle — which pushes for domestic violence and sexual assault awareness — organized yesterday’s event, which was co-sponsored by the University Health Center and part of a program by the United Gender Movement to get men involved in the fight to end sexual assault.

Anne Niemi, the group’s co-president, said she hopes the event will inspire more men to get involved in the campaign against sexual assault.

“It takes a lot of courage and confidence to do this,” Niemi said. “It speaks to their character to do something that is a little bit embarrassing and definitely uncomfortable to make a point.”

Most of the marchers were from the Alpha Tau Omega and Phi Delta Theta fraternities, which were recruited by Mollie Monahan-Kreishman, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life’s sexual assault prevention coordinator.

Last week, she scoured Payless ShoeSource and a local thrift store for women’s shoes big enough for men’s feet — ending up mostly with open-toed and open-back heels.

“They’re pretty comfortable,” said junior English major Mark Delaney, vice president of Alpha Tau Omega.

The comfort level quickly took a dive during the 15-minute walk around the mall, which ended with the men scrambling to take off their shoes.

“They were pretty painful,” Mark said after his lap. “It was especially hard walking on the twigs and stick that were on the ground.”

As part of the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life’s “10 Men” sexual assault education program for fraternities, both groups attend weekly meetings with Monahan-Kreishman and participate in other events such as the Clothesline Project, where students hang decorated T-shirts that feature stories of violence against women.

“Sexual assault is an absolutely disgusting thing that goes on our campus, and people don’t know how much of it goes on and how much it hurts people,” Delaney said. “We are a group that wants to stop it.”



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